LOVE THE WAY U LIE
Directed by RC de los Reyes
Written by Danno Kristoper C. Mariquit
Nathan Torres (Xian Lim) was an online business developer who still obsessively mourned the death of his wife Sara (Kylie Versoza) one year ago. Stacey Likauko (Alex Gonzaga) is a cheerful, luckless-in-love psychic who told fortunes and sold Chinese trinkets on Plaza Miranda. When the two crossed paths, the spirit of Sara would speak through Stacey to convince Nathan to let her go and move on.
For me, the best aspect of this film was its stunning cinematography by Lee Jake Mariano. It was so clean and crisp, making Manila look bright and beautiful. Unlike how they are usually portrayed in those grimy indies, Quiapo Church, Ongpin Street, Jones Bridge, Fort Santiago, Rizal Park, Manila Baywalk, even the abandoned Manila Film Center, all looked very picturesque and worthy to revisit.
The afterlife theme was familiar from films like "Ghost" and "Honey, Nasa Langit Na Ba Ako? (the 1998 Regine Velasquez-Janno Gibb film referenced in the script), but this had an uncomfortable twist about lying as added spice. There were no real surprises to speak of, story-wise. Alex Gonzaga was her usual wacky, kooky self whom we know from TV, sometimes going overboard. Xian Lim looked great on camera here, but was awkward when it came to comedy scenes. Kylie Versoza had a strong screen presence despite her short screen time. Stacey's over-dependent Chinoy family (Jeric Raval, Kim Molina, Chad Kinis) were mostly there for comic relief, and the occasional emotional support.
Written and directed by Easy Ferrer
Nel (Jerome Ponce) was a carefree journalist diagnosed with hyperthymesia, so his memory was so extraordinary that he can recall any past event to its exact date. When he began receiving notifications about some of his previous social media posts about a lost love, he realized that he could not recall anything about who she was. His best friend from childhood Kit (Jane Oineza) just happened to be in town for her wedding that weekend. So, Nel asked Kit to help him recall who that mysterious lost love actually was.
Frankly, the way the story was being told, and the way Ponce and Oineza were portraying their characters, there was not really much of a surprise as to who the lost love was. Nel's scenes with the other girls, like high school sweetheart Grace (Barbie Imperial), successful careerwoman Ces (Kate Alejandrino) or camping enthusiast Leah (Claire Ruiz), were clearly only there to further prolong the obvious resolution.
The big surprise here was this shocking revelation as to why he lost this particular memory. This was the main weakness of the screenplay for me. Was it really possible for any radical medical intervention to actually erase one specific memory out and not affect everything else? Aside from major issues of medical privacy committed, this physiological impossibility was a very problematic plot device which could not simply glossed over.
TIME & AGAIN
Written and directed by Jose Javier Reyes
Apol (Winwyn Marquez) lived with her aunt Ipang (Madeleine Nicolas) and cousin Rio (Adrienne Vergara) and worked as a cashier in a diner cafe. Despite never having any boyfriend since birth, she wrote romances on an online platform under the name of Scarlet Veronique. One day, law student Ozzie (Enzo Pineda) walked into her shop and swept her off her feet. However, he already had a beautiful girlfriend Leah (Sammie Rimando).
During the first hour of the film, this felt like a very simple typical girl-meets-boy love story and seemed destined to go and end that way. Winwyn Marquez was a very charming Apol, and we are all rooting for her to get the boy of her dreams, with the help of her family and friends. By the end of that hour, writer-director Reyes surprised us all by dropping an unexpected major hurdle that Apol would have to overcome to get her man.
After that point, the whole story made an unexpected quantum leap into the realm of fantasy. The way Apol was written for these last 30 minutes was not the Apol we knew in the first hour. She was impatient, impertinent and even creepy in the way she was dealing with Ozzie. I did not see a compelling reason why she had to act this way, except maybe to build a feeling of suspense before the final reveal. However, what happened was that the ending became too anti-climactic and illogical, even when it was what we were expecting.
This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."